Six Ways to Get Your Resume READ! Print E-mail

by Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC

Finishing touches on a resume can make or break how employers view your presentation and, by extension, you. Even if your grammar skills are impeccable and you have a knack for prose, it’s easy to overlook some important details unique to resume writing. Here are six valuable tips to ensure your document is polished and professional: 

1. Sentence fragments are not only acceptable, but standard.
Truly, you wouldn’t pass fifth-grade composition class if you wrote incomplete sentences as fragments are prohibited in prose writing. Resumes, however, should never read like a “story,” so they don’t play by the same rules. The phrase “Generated $5M in revenue to increase gross profits by 33%” is perfectly acceptable for a resume, but it is indeed a fragment.

Further confusing jobseekers attempting to write their own resumes are pesky warnings by grammar check features of popular word processing programs. They are designed to automatically detect errors based on standard grammar rules of prose writing. Turning off grammar check can be a big time-saver since it won’t help much when it comes to resume writing.

2. Avoid using first person.
Though you are writing about yourself, resist the temptation to use first person. After all, a resume is not an autobiography. A simple way to stick to this rule is to avoid words referring to yourself, such as “I,” “me,” or “my.” This strategy not only will help present a more formal and polished presentation, it will also cut down on unnecessary words that take up space. 

3. Be consistent. 
If you spell out your state rather than use the abbreviation, be sure to do so throughout the resume wherever a state is mentioned. If you choose to use a serial comma, that’s fine, but you must do so throughout the resume. Not being consistent in your choices gives the impression you did not put much effort into preparing the finished product.

4. Don’t expect jargon to be self-explanatory.
Never assume those reading your resume will know highly-specialized terminology. Even if you are applying for a position requiring such knowledge, your resume will likely be read by a human resources professional who won’t have a clue what you are trying to convey. Terminology unique to military or technical fields, for example, won’t make much sense to hiring managers. Keep your audience in mind when writing your resume, and be sure to include comprehensive descriptions so you don’t lose your reader, and in turn, the opportunity.

5. Use capital letters wisely. 
A common pitfall in writing a resume is overuse of capitalized words. Generally, job titles and departments do not warrant capitalization in the context of a resume. Some jobseekers go one step beyond and use capitalization as a tool to lend emphasis. In reality, that simply serves to highlight what are essentially grammatical errors since that is not the intended purpose of capitalization. The rule of thumb is simple: Words should not be capitalized unless they are proper nouns in the context in which they are used.

6. Check spelling.
This doesn’t mean run the computer’s spell check. Though it’s just plain common sense to edit line by line to check for grammar and spelling errors, it’s very tempting to rely on modern technology to detect errors for us. There’s too much at stake to risk having a silly mistake slip through the cracks. For example, the word manger is a legitimate word in the dictionary and will therefore not be picked up by a spell check program. However, stating you worked as an “Assistant Manger” certainly won’t help land that management position you’ve been eyeing!

Taking a little extra time to polish your resume will help you outshine your competition, so, for maximum benefit, be sure to read -- and reread – your resume even after you think you are done. A polished resume exudes a polished candidate.